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Two weeks ago, Scotland became the first country in the world to announce that it would introduce minimum pricing on alcohol & subsequently told us that as of May 2018 this legislation will actually kick in.
While it’s aimed at targeting the cheaper end of the booze market such as your Frosty Jacks and White Lightning ciders – it will have minimal impact on wines and spirits. There have been accusations of an attack on the poor as these cheaper tipples jump up massively in price where as the ‘classier’ beverages are less affected. There have been many links made with alcohol abuse and more deprived areas but the long standing toxic relationship this country has with alcohol doesn’t just touch those who have fallen on hard times or were perhaps born in to difficult circumstances. You see, working in a supermarket part time means that I actually get to see the wide range of people who buy booze. This goes from the homeless woman dragging in her sleeping bag having collected exactly the right amount of money from strangers to buy a mini bottle of red wine to steady her shaking hands – to the woman not much older than myself, in the 9-5 job who buys a full sized bottle of white wine every day and for whom the tremors are just beginning. Neither will be significantly affected by the new legislation unless their drink of choice happens to change to strong and (for the time being) cheap ciders or some own brand spirits. I’m struggling to foresee that a price increase will matter all that much in either case. If someone wants a drink – they’ll pay what they need to.
However, teetotalism among young people (16-24) in particular is on the rise – that’s according to figures released in May this year with over one quarter claiming that they don’t drink. While I do think this is a positive statistic and I applaud the fact that young people have the audacity not to bow to peer pressure and get ‘mortal’ on every night out as some obnoxious reality stars might seem to enjoy doing. It does seem to me that the Brit’s issue with booze is that it can often be an All or Nothing approach.
Can we all just agree that when each of us drank alcohol for the first time- it tasted like shit? We weren’t drinking it to achieve the perfect pairing with a delicate fish dish. Quite simply, we wanted to get a bit pissed and have a laugh with our friends. I’ve had some amazing nights out and in which were accompanied with alcohol, perhaps too much from time to time but I’m not trying to preach to anyone and say I’ve never spilled almost an entire jaeger bomb down my chin and cleavage. The difference between my late teens/early twenties and now – half way in to my 27th year- is that I feel my relationship with alcohol has changed massively. When I’m choosing wine, I don’t necessarily go for anything that’s on the bargain shelf – I like to take time to think about what will taste nice. In reference to my quip about wine pairing- I do that now! I made dinner for some friends a few weeks ago and I spent several minutes in the booze aisle selecting the perfect wine for the salmon I was preparing (how bloody grown up am I right?).
Another significant way my relationship with alcohol has changed is the feelings I have afterwards. I’m not just talking about the throbbing head, high vomit potential followed by the insatiable need for complete stodge (my go to is almost always a Chinese takeaway btw). I mean the regular occurrence of the SAD-OVER. I’ve used this phrase around a few people who look at me in complete bewilderment and with others it’s met with empathy because they’ve experienced the same thing. You don’t need me to tell you that alcohol is a depressant but over the past year or so that particular side effect has made more of an impact than before. After a big night out, the next day I often feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. I start to question every aspect of my life & myself and I tend not to want to speak to anyone. Some people might refer to this as THE FEAR but I feel like it’s time to treat those feelings a bit more seriously as opposed to part of the boozy banter chat. This complete imbalance in my mood can sometimes take 2 or 3 days to right itself and I try to do that by being as productive as possible as soon as the immediate physical effects of the hangover have lifted. ( I should point out that this doesn’t happen following a few glasses of wine but more so after big celebrations where my alcohol in-take may be significantly higher).
So now, I try to think more carefully about how much I drink on the ‘bigger’ occasions because I have a better understanding of how alcohol affects me. That’s just it really, drink affects everyone in different ways and it so dependent on a variety of factors. For example, sometimes my sensible plans are thwarted because I haven’t had time to grab a proper dinner before going out, I’m tired, I’ve not drunk enough water that day etc. It is about knowing your body and being able to understand what it’s limitations are. I’m 5″2 so mine aren’t all that extensive.
I suppose I just wanted to write this post because this is something I have thought about sharing for a while and I think the Scottish Government’s decision to pass legislation attempting to combat our country’s troubled relationship with alcohol, can be viewed as a positive thing. However, it’s only one measure and the general drinking culture requires more of an overhaul. I also wanted to share my thoughts in the hope that if anyone else has had similar feelings, just know that it’s ok. I don’t think I’ve ever understood my own mind better than I do right now – learning to recognise ‘down days’ and what you might need to overcome them, even something as simple as writing in a diary (or a blog) is a healthy sign that you are in tune with your own mental health. Understanding that large amounts of alcohol can sometimes trigger a negative effect on that, is just part of being a responsible drinker which people often are.
So, with just a little more thought for our own wee selves we can go forth and be merry!